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August 2020 Newsletter

Vin de peche peach leaf wine recipe recette-3

This time of year when Paris is thinning out. August 1st, today, is a rouge (red) day on the highways indicating there's very heavy traffic leaving the city. It's been a long spring (and winter) with strikes, protests, and confinement, and many people are more than happy to be heading out for les vacances, which people were already talking about in March and April when the lockdowns were in place. The second most important issue on the news seemed to be: Will we get our summer vacations?

French people didn't always have generous vacation time. It wasn't until the 1930s when a law was passed to give people some time off from work. The idea was to take care of workers, who in those days, worked very hard at tasks, like shoveling coal to keep the trains moving, etc. As I recounted in Drinking French, that's always when many French people discovered pastis, on holiday trips to Marseilles, and kept drinking it once they got back home to keep the spirit of summer...and the south of France alive, where they lived.

Moelleux apricot plum cake summer french dessert recipe fruits fruit-3

I'll admit that I'm ready for a break too. I've been making summer fruit desserts like a mad man, or mad baker, taking advantage of the tumble of plums, apricots, peaches, nectarines, and cherries in abundance at the market. I posted a round-up of summer fruit dessert recipes on my blog, surprised at how many recipes I'd presented over the years.

I had a great time this spring launching my Instagram Live Apéro Hour videos and posting some new recipes on the blog, while revisiting a few older ones, updating posts with new pictures and streamlining ingredients or techniques. One of my favorite "blasts from the past" was the Irish Cream Shakerino, a word I invented for the frozen, shaken, slightly boozy milkshake, that you can make in a minute. Several readers warned me they also found them a little too easy to drink, which I agree with. So consider yourself warned! (And remember to always drink in moderation.)

Peach cobbler recipe

I'm going to be going on break starting near the beginning of August so you won't hear much from me. I've got a pile of books I'm anxious to read, a beach that may be calling my name. I don't know which one it is, though. But I don't care. I'll take any beach at this point.

I've also been thinking about making some changes to the blog. It's gone through some revisions and updates over the years, beginning as an unscripted journal of what I was on my mind, sharing great addresses I was discovering in Paris, stories about my travels, and what I was baking and cooking. It was a lot more casual and wasn't intended to be a "food" or recipe blog. I didn't have much of a plan. Whatever I was cooking, I'd write up and share how I did it.

Now there is a complicated recipe plug-in that I need to input ingredients as you would on a spreadsheet, which is less-fun than writing freely. Social media has also become important and while it takes a bit of time, I really like communicating with readers on Facebook and Instagram. And it's how many people find out about blog post updates. And those sometimes have challenges too.

(It's taken me a few years, but I now realize that typos and spelling goofs mean that you have better things to do.)

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So I'm going to work on streamline things. I'm less-interested in configuring servers, coding, correcting color profiles, and a bunch of other techie things I never thought I'd be doing as a cook and baker. If you have two to three minutes, I've created a survey to find out how people use the blog and other questions. If you'd like to fill it out, it'd be helpful for me. The survey is here.

[Note: I've never done a survey before so hope there are no hiccups!]

I've enjoyed doing my aforementioned Instagram Live Apéro Hours a lot and thanks to everyone who tuned in over the last few months. (Most are archived here.) It was also nice they were chosen by America's Test Kitchen as one of 10 Things We Loved in the Food World in July. Sometimes those lists are just the "usual suspects," it was nice to be amongst some outliers. My last Apéro Hour before we head out for vacation on a road trip, was yesterday, and we'll see if Romain and I can do a few while we're out & about. If not, I'm hoping to continue them when I get back.

So, pushing the ship away from the shore, so to speak, we'll be here and there, catching some sun (and hopefully a few waves), sipping wine and cognac, shopping at outdoor markets in the countryside, and doing whatever else happens to catch our fancy. We don't have a plan. However, I've instructed Romain not to stop at any flea markets, brocantes, or bric-a-brac stores along the way. I have plenty on my plate already and looking to lighten the load (and my kitchen shelves and cabinets) a little at home.

I know a lot of us have been cooped up for the last few months and I did a major purge of my closets, cabinets while in confinement, and although I'm scared to tackle the boxes and files of paperwork and l'administration, I swear I'll get to those in the fall. But first, let's do some summer...

- David

Chocolate chip ice cream gelato amaro recipe -9

Recent Recipes and Posts on My Blog

This light, braised Turkey in White Wine with bacon is a great main course any time of the year. Who sez bacon (or turkey) has a season?

Looking for the perfect summer drink, that's full of flavor, but won't knock you on your derrière? The refreshing, bubbly, colorful Negroni Sbagliato checks all those boxes. Check it out!

I couldn't write a French drinks book without mentioning the icon French apéritif Amer Picon So I talked about it a little more, and since it's not available in the U.S., gave some tips on what you use in its place.

An abundance of milk chocolate was churned into Milk Chocolate Chip-Amaro Ice Cream with a dose of amaro. The result? Bitter/sweet scoops of cool, creamy chocolate perfection.

Don't mess with Texans when it comes to their Texas peach cobbler. Romain compared this local treat to the French Kouign Aman pastry from Brittany (that's quite a compliment from a Frenchman!)...and has asked me nearly a dozen times when I'm going to make it again.

In the restaurant business, where the sense of humor could be compared to that of a 12-year-old, we used to jokingly refer to them as STDs, when SDTs (sun-dried tomatoes) were called for. I found myself with a lot of them recently (not STDs...), which were put to great use in this Sun-dried tomato pesto, which makes a great appetizer spread or accompaniment to summertime grilled meats, fish, or vegetables.

Dirty Lemon soldiers on in Paris, serving great Middle Eastern food as well as inventive cocktails and quaffable wines, perfect for dining on one of the makeshift terraces around town.

Can't make it to Paris? This Cucumber Mint Cooler from Mokoloco, my favorite sandwich shop in the city, is a refreshing break from the heat of the season.

I reached into my past, and for a bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream, to shake up a frosty-cold Coffee and Irish cream liqueur shakerino. Or, er...shakerato.

A round-up of some of my favorite Summer fruit recipes on my blog.

I don't have friends with gardens, so am not gifted with their overload of zucchini, but if you are (or even if you aren't) this Zucchini Cake with crunchy lemon glaze is the best I've ever made.

But if you do have friends with a peach tree, as I do, you can make this Vin de pêche (shown in the photo at the top of the newsletter), with the fragrant, almond-scented leaves.

I updated my post on Shelling Bean-Tomato Salad since it's my salad of this summer. Tender beans, juicy-ripe tomatoes, basil, and sometimes cubes of feta, make this a plat du jour for lunch around here.


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